Another Dan Cormier workshop

I recently finished another online course with Dan Cormier, this time making vessels. The course was about construction, and we had to create our own veneer. As always, there was a focus on exacting work, which is a great discipline.

I’ve since made a film container for someone who is using an old ‘box brownie’ camera. I was aiming to create a mid-century design based on the shapes in my leather cutter set. These cutter sets are quite cheap – search eBay or similar for “leather cutters”.

Scrap clay techniques

There’s no such thing as scrap clay – well not for me – I find so many things to do with clay left over from projects I rarely have much scrap.

If you make items to sell it may not be economical to look for ways to use scrap.  However, if you do this for pleasure like I do, and make items on a small scale you might find working with your scraps helps fuel your creativity.  

Here I make suggestions for all levels of scrap, from left-over canes to those muddy clumps of clay. 

Here’s my video of the ‘Totem’ / Micro-Natasha technique mentioned below. [I’ve heard since that the term used for this technique is ‘scrap-scape’]

Left-over canes

Kaleidoscope canes

Lengths of these canes were combined to make the new cane (bottom left).

Kaleidoscope canes are great if you have excess canes, or have canes you just don’t like.  To get the repeated pattern, all components need to be consistent for the length of the cane, so are good for canes you have no more use for – even canes you think are ugly can look great when combined in a kaleidoscope cane.  You can also add long ‘sausages’ or strips of a color.  You’ll find a lot of tutorials for these, or  See my steps in making a kaleidoscope cane from left over canes and also here.

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Simple kaleidoscope cane

I’m luckier than many who’ve suffered physically, emotionally and financially from COVID19, and haven’t minded the extended lock-down in Melbourne.  As well as having a bit more time for polymer clay and other crafts, I’ve had regular zoom ‘craft catchups’ with friends.  One technique I share with people who are new to polymer clay is the kaleidoscope cane.  You can get impressive results using just a few elements, and it’s a great way to use up canes you have left over.  Even canes you don’t like can be beautiful when combined with others and repeated in this way.

Pen kit (sold for wood turners) covered in polymer clay canes, showing step by step to final cane.

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Flower cane video

I have described how to make a simple flower cane here.  Here is a video of the process, including making beads. This bangle was worn by one of the actors in Jane Cafarella’s play about surrogacy – “e-baby” which was performed at Chapel off Chapel (Melbourne, Australia) in March 2015.

Sarah Ranken (wearing the bracelet) and Carolyn Bock in

Sarah Ranken (wearing the bangle) and Carolyn Bock in “e-baby””

Background information about the play “e-baby” Jane Cafarella talks about play (ABC Radio National) .

Check this link for an amazing (very short) video of the building of a Marilyn Monroe cane by Adina Pastelina.

Color match beads

My daughter has some favorite green shoes, which she wants to wear with greys and neutrals – she clearly needed a necklace to tie in the shoes.

Beads to match shoes

I  added some ground cumin and coarsely ground black pepper to the white polymer clay, to add a bit of interest.  I mixed  a color to match the shoes (kato clay: 2 yellow, 1 turquoise and a pinch of red).   I created a skinner blend then made beads from different parts of the blend.  For the shape, I rolled lentil beads, and once I had the lentil shape, simply squashed them with the top plate.

Clock pin/pendant

Having made a number of polymer clay clocks, I was keen to see if I could make one small and light enough to wear as a pin or pendant.  I made the basic shape from Sculpey Light and cut out the centre to hold the watch, then applied black Kato, and some Fimo Classic canes.  (I changed from Fimo to Kato when my supplier stopped stocking Fimo Classic after the change in formula, but I have a few canes left which are still usable once I work them a bit.)

I drilled a hole and threaded a head pin through the side of the piece, then through the small hole in the lug, holding the watch but allowing it to hinge out.  Two pin backs attach to clothing or to the jump rings beside the necklace clasp.

I initially embedded the pin backs in so far they were too short, and I had to take them out and redo them.  However, next time I would do them a little shorter.

What I learned from Lindly

Beads made from the color blends I brought home from Lindly’s class

I did two workshops at CFCF 2012 with Lindly Haunani.  As is often the case, the biggest lesson for me had nothing to do with the actual workshop projects.

I spend lots of time developing a color theme, and then producing most of my work using that theme.   I love “Color Inspirations” by Lindly and Maggie Maggio, and I used some of the steps in the book to create the color theme I usually use.   So, walking into Lindly’s classes and being presented with 5 blocks of (donated) Premo filled me with anxiety. Black, white and 3 stark prime colors – something like this and no time to mix better ones. There was only one thing to do – Continue reading

Cabin Fever Clay Festival

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Cabin Fever Clay Festival last month in Laurel, Maryland, as part of a holiday to the US.  After 20 years of teaching myself – initially from books, and later the web – it was very exciting to be in these workshops, to actually see the wonderful tutors in action – many of whom I have “known” for years through my collection of polymer clay books.

It was also great to be part of a wonderful, friendly group of people who were all excited about polymer clay!

The workshops have inspired me (at least for now!) to spend more time working with polymer clay – and to join the many people who share their polymer work, and start a blog.  I’m not sure how I will go with either.  I did consider calling my blog “polymer clay yearly” (in contrast to Cynthia Tinapple’s daily posts) but at this stage I’m a little more optimistic than that!